Don’t lose your memories forever: STEP calls on the government and service providers like Apple, Google and Meta to do more to help people to pass on their digital memories

STEP, a worldwide body for professionals that help families plan for their futures, is launching its Protect Your Digital Memories campaign today to encourage people to make plans for what happens to their photos and videos after they’ve gone.

STEP is calling for the government and digital service providers to do more to help people to make plans for their assets, and to find better ways to support grieving loved ones who wish to access a loved one’s account

The professional membership body STEP is today calling on the public to plan what will happen to their ‘digital memories’ – the precious photos, videos and the contents of social and email accounts that could otherwise be lost to the cloud after they have gone.

According to YouGov polling online of over 2,000 UK adults:

•           64 per cent said that what happens to their sentimental digital possessions after they have gone is either fairly important or very important to them.

•           33 per cent said that their digital possessions with a monetary value, such as cryptocurrency, were either fairly important or very important to them.

•           Over half of the respondents (57 per cent) have made no plans at all for passing on their digital assets in the event of their death.

•           Of those who have made no plans, most (52 per cent) had not thought about it while 15 per cent knew they should but had not got around to it and 11 per cent did not know what to do.

•           Only 3 per cent of respondents had used the existing digital legacy tools provided by Google, Apple and others.

Commenting on the campaign, Emily Deane, Head of Government Affairs at STEP, said: “With so much of our lives now lived online, we must make plans to pass on our digital memories or risk them being lost on the cloud.

‘We know from our previous research with estate planning practitioners that not being able to access a loved one’s digital assets can be a great source of distress for grieving families. Losing a loved one is hard enough without losing their precious photos too

‘That is why STEP is launching its Protect your Digital Memories campaign today. Our new website, memories.step.org, gives easy tips for how to plan what will happen to our digital assets when we are no longer able to access them. It only takes a few minutes to use the legacy tools that Apple, Google, and other providers already have in place. Just ten minutes now could save our loved ones a great deal of distress in the future.” 

STEP is calling for:

1.         Every service provider to provide, and encourage users to make use of, a comprehensive legacy tool to enable people to decide what happens to their account

2.         Every service provider to have a clause that allows access to a nominated person within its terms and conditions

3.         Legislation that allows access to a nominated person in the appropriate circumstances.

Michael Culver, Chair of Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE), the membership body setting the standards for older client law, says: ‘This is a really important campaign from STEP. It’s clear that everyone – including lawyers – needs to be more aware of the need to consider digital assets when planning ahead. Without a plan for digital assets, things can quickly get messy, time-consuming and stressful for family members.”

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